From the Dog House to the Courthouse:
Man Pleads Guilty to Dog Deaths and Witness Intimidation
|Dozer Boy and Kyera playing in their yard.
Last week, a 73-year-old Firestone, Colorado man, Joseph Losinsksi, was sentenced to nine and a half years in prison. His crime: poisoning a chocolate Labrador ( "Dozer Boy") and a German shepherd ( "Kyera") with strychnine-laced meatballs. He pleaded guilty in October to charges of felony aggravated animal cruelty and intimidating a witness. It is an outstanding conclusion to a sad case, and one helped every step of the way by the Animal Legal Defense Fund.
|ALDF Contract Attorney, Diane Balkin
ALDF also helped speed the case along by footing the bill for the expensive lab tests at the VGL Lab at U.C. Davis Veterinary School. These tests confirmed that the ground meat found in the stomachs of the dogs was indeed ground pork which was consistent with an empty meat package found in the defendant’s trash. The ground pork was laced with strychnine.
In August of 2011, Joseph Losinski fed poisoned meatballs to the dogs, who were in their own yard. Tesla Dougherty watched as her dog Kyera struggled unsuccessfully to survive the poisoning, and did her best to comfort her as she died. After the death of both dogs, Losinski terrorized his neighbors, according to media reports, many of whom armed themselves and installed security cameras.
Losinkski was sentenced on an "Alford" plea—a guilty plea in which a defendant concedes there is enough evidence to convict, and avails of a plea bargain, but still claims his innocence. The U.S. Supreme Court allowed this type of plea in North Carolina v. Alford, 400 US 25 (1970). Losinski pled to two charges: (1) one count of felony aggravated animal cruelty and (2) one count of witness intimidation for sending a threatening letter to a witness in the case. He received nine and a half years: one and a half for the animal cruelty charge and eight for witness tampering. These sentences will be run consecutively, particularly in light of Losinski’s refusal to accept responsibility for his crimes and due to the risk he presents to the community. Although Losinski did not admit his guilt, Weld District Judge Todd Taylor was convinced beyond doubt that Losinski was responsible.
Judge Taylor expressed concern that the defendant seemed to be "motivated by cruelty and some sort of sadistic pleasure." Media reports suggest Losinski had previously been accused of poisoning animals in Minnesota. This case reminds us of the link between cruelty to animals and violence towards humans. But it also shows us that with cooperation and diligence, animal abusers can be locked away and face the prison time they deserve.